There’s yet another high-profile jewelry collaboration in the works, and this one—while not happening on American soil—is worthy of note because of the sophisticated consumer its creators are targeting. Couturier Vivienne Tam is making her first fine jewelry collection for Tse Sui Luen Jewellery, or TSL, a Hong Kong-based retailer with more than 200 boutiques throughout Asia. With that many doors, it’s easy to envision a price point-friendly line—think Jane Seymour’s Open Hearts jewelry for Kay Jewelers—but TSL and Tam have gone in the other direction: The pieces she has designed are large and architecturally sculpted in 18k gold, retail from $6,500 to $40,000, and will only be made upon request, starting this spring.
Motifs inspired by the five elements of Chinese cosmology—metal, wood, water, fire, and earth—will put most Chinese consumers at ease but the price points are within reach of a limited few. A spokesperson says a “a consumer version for wider distribution in Asia and the U.S. next year” is in the works, but a chain store’s decision to lead Tam’s jewelry entrée with a high-end collection appears to contrast with what American merchandisers do, and makes me wonder if the move will drive demand among the hoi polloi once the affordable stuff is available.
On its website, TSL claims that its “success has been driven by a passion for progressiveness, artistry, quality, and craftsmanship,” so if this exceedingly editorial collection of jewels with silhouettes that Americans largely reserve for costume cousins is the status quo for TSL, I’ve got a couple questions: How soon can we have an American outpost of TSL? And when will an American retailer be so bold as to implement a similar effort in his or her store to drive traffic and more interest to jewelry?